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The Origins of Friday the 13th

The Knights Templar was a by product of the crusades during the Middle Ages. While Christians and Moslems fought for control of the city of Jerusalem, a French knight named Hugues de Pavens established the order of the Knights Templar in 1118. During the 12th century, the Knights Templar reached their peak, serving as monks and keepers of historical church artifacts. The demise of the Knights Templar occurred on Friday the 13th, in October of 1307.

The Lord shall send you curses, confusion, and rebuke in every enterprise to which you set your hand, until you are destroyed, perishing quickly because of the evil of your doings by which you have forsaken me [Moses and God as one], Deuteronomy 28:20.

This was a culmination of the extreme measures taken by King Philip IV of France to hunt down, imprison, torture, and execute the leaders of the Knights Templar. This plan was set in motion with Pope Clement V’s backing and support. Months prior to this fateful night, secret documents had been sent by couriers throughout France. These papers included lurid details, whispers of black magic and accusations of scandalous sexual rituals. While being burned at the stake, Roger de Flor, the leader of the Knights Templar, cursed King Philip and Pope Clement.

For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer, Romans 13:4.

According to eyewitnesses of De Flor’s death, Roger claimed that both men would die within the next year. The Pope died of a severe illness a few months later. Meanwhile, King Philip suffered a stroke while riding a horse several months later, dying shortly afterward. The fulfillment of Roger de Flor’s curse on Friday the 13th is believed to be the origin for this scary night. Today, superstitious people consider Friday the 13th to be unlucky. Yet, curses are real, detailed in the Bible, so make sure you listen carefully to God’s commands, Deuteronomy 28:1-2. Those who do will find blessings; not curses.

by Jay Mankus

Forming a Complete Picture of God

It’s rare that you see kindness and severity in the same sentence. These opposing terms highlight elements of God’s nature. According to the apostle Paul, you should take note and appreciate both aspects of God’s personality. While God can demonstrate affection, concern and warmth, this is only one side of the picture. When commands, decrees and expectations aren’t met, God’s wrath is displayed through curses, loss and rebukes.

Then note and appreciate the gracious kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s gracious kindness to you—provided you continue in His grace and abide in His kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off (pruned away), Romans 11:22.

In the second half of the passage above, the apostle Paul adds a spiritual disclaimer. God’s grace and kindness is dependent upon how you exercise your free will. Those who abide in the fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, enjoy and partake in fellowship with God. However, if you indulge your sinful nature, the severity of God can be unleashed upon disobedient souls. When you consider the pros and cons, a complete picture of God comes into view.

[So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents]. But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations], 1 John 1:6-7.

The disciple whom Jesus loved uses an analogy to paint his own picture of God’s true nature. Comparing a relationship with God to taking a walk, you have one of two options. According to John, each choice either represents light or darkness. Decisions inspired by the Holy Spirit result in blessings. On the other hand, poor choices influenced by your sinful nature bring spiritual darkness. The more you abide in Jesus, the clearer human minds become, able to envision a complete picture of God.

by Jay Mankus

Living in a Land of Lions

When you read the Old Testament, certain sections are clear and concise. God’s nature is often revealed by using specific commands to illustrate the importance of obedience. Those who follow the Lord are blessed and those who fail to follow God’s directions are cursed. There is no halfway, it’s either all or nothing.

Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words which he had spoken to the king they told also to their father. 12 Their father asked them, Which way did he go? For his sons had seen which way the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13 He said to his sons, Saddle the donkey for me. So they saddled the donkey and he rode on it, 1 King 13:11-13.

In the passage above and below, a prophet of the Lord is fooled by a lie. Apparently, this liar was paid off by King Jeroboam, persuaded to prophecize good and positive messages to enhance his reign. When news of a miracle performed by a visiting prophet from Judah reach this wayward man, he was desperate to meet him. When his own sons were unsuccessful, this discredited prophet makes up an encounter with an angel to change his mind.

He said, I may not return with you or go in with you, neither will I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 For I was told by the word of the Lord, You shall not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way that you came. 18 He answered, I am a prophet also, as you are. And an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied to him. 19 So the man from Judah went back with him and ate and drank water in his house, 1 Kings 13:16-19.

Taking this man at his word, this young prophet disobeys God by staying an extra day in this corrupt land. Although a loving God would forgive modern transgressions, God’s command was to not eat or drink another meal before leaving. While this doesn’t seem fair, obedience matters to God. Thus, while bending the rules on this occasion seemed okay, a lion was sent to kill this prophet on his way back home to Judah.

And after the prophet of the house had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the man he had brought back. 24 And when he had gone, a lion met him by the road and slew him, and his corpse was cast in the way, and the donkey stood by it; the lion also stood by the corpse. 25 And behold, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown in the road, and the lion standing by the corpse, and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. 26 When the prophet who brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, It is the man of God who was disobedient to the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and slain him, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke to him, 1 Kings 13:23-26.

This story is mentioned in the Bible to serve as a remainder that obedience matters. Making up the rules as you go isn’t an option for a servant of God. While those outside the church may get away with telling a lie from time to time, you can’t fool God as Paul suggests in Galatians 6:7-8. You reap what you sow. Although you probably won’t cross paths with a lion, make sure you’re sowing seeds of encouragement rather than lies of deceit.

by Jay Mankus

Rains from Heaven

While farmers pray for rain each summer to nurture freshly planted crops, vacationers hope for clear sunny skies until nightfall.  Meanwhile, those who reside in the path of previous hurricanes or tornado alley, plead with God to save their home, lives and town.  From God’s perspective, every day prayers lifted up to heaven often contradict one another.  Subsequently, rain sent from heaven will bless some while serving as a curse to others.

Yet He did not leave Himself without some witness [as evidence of Himself], in that He kept constantly doing good things and showing you kindness, and giving you rains from heaven and productive seasons, filling your hearts with food and happiness,” Acts 14:17.

After healing a man crippled from birth, eyewitnesses of this miracle exalted Paul and Barnabas to god-like status.  Instead of receiving this praise, Paul reveals the source of his power, pointing to heaven.  Evidence of God’s presence can be seen daily if you are watching closely.  Unfortunately, many have become oblivious, too focused on their own lives to thank the Lord for rains sent from heaven.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]. 18 It was of His own will that He gave us birth [as His children] by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits of His creatures [a prime example of what He created to be set apart to Himself—sanctified, made holy for His divine purposes], James 1:17-18.

An earthly brother came to realize this fact following Jesus’ resurrection.  Perhaps, the passage above is a culmination of a private conversation prior to Jesus ascending into heaven.  If only negative people who try to bring you down would grasp the concept that every perfect gift comes from above.  Embracing this mindset would transform families, neighborhoods and workplaces.  Yet, for now, the best way to keep this message alive is by pointing to rain sent from heaven.

by Jay Mankus

The Comfort and Encouragement of the Holy Spirit

A first century doctor makes an interesting observation about the Holy Spirit.  While initially described as the Holy Ghost in the original King James version of the Bible, Luke describes the feeling and sense new believers experienced following their baptism.  Despite being an invisible force, those who walked with God daily received an inner peace in the form of comfort and encouragement.  When I read the passage below for the first time, I pondered “what does it mean to walk in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit?”

So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace [without persecution], being built up [in wisdom, virtue, and faith]; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it continued to grow [in numbers], Acts 9:31.

The term walking with God is found 62 times in the Bible.  One of the first references of this phrase occurs in the passage below, a command from God to Abram to activate his faith by arising and walking to fulfill God’s calling.  While Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 5:22 mentions that Enoch walked faithfully with God.  Subsequently, Enoch was spared death, taken up into heaven like Elijah.  Perhaps, this shines light on the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

Arise, walk (make a thorough reconnaissance) around in the land, through its length and its width, for I will give it to you.” 18 Then Abram broke camp and moved his tent, and came and settled by the [grove of the great] terebinths (oak trees) of Mamre [the Amorite], which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to [honor] the Lord, Genesis 13:17-18.

The comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit could also originate from teachings from Moses.  Deuteronomy 28 lists acts that result in blessings and curses from God.  The blessing list lasts 14 verses, followed by 54 verses on curses due to acts of disobedience.  Common sense tells me that if you are walking with God or as the apostle Paul puts it in Galatians 5:25, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, blessings will abound.  Moses states in Deuteronomy 28:2 that” all these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you pay attention to the voice of the Lord your God.”  Therefore, as individuals walk with God, blessings will bring comfort and encouragement to ensure believers that you are on the right track.

by Jay Mankus

Remember or Forget

The book of Deuteronomy serves as a repetition of God’s laws.  Essentially Deuteronomy is a second statement of Mosaic Law.  The need for human beings to remember suggests that individuals tend to forget.  Thus, Moses is inspired by God to repeat what was written in previous books to highlight what God fearing Jews should remember and obey.

God fed you manna in the wilderness, [a substance] which your fathers did not know, so that He might humble you [by dependence on Him] and that He might test you, to do good [things] for you at the end. 17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth, Deuteronomy 8:16-17. 

Chapter 8 serves as a brief summary of God’s faithfulness to his people while in the wilderness.  When the people were hungry, manna from heaven appeared to eat.  After individuals became tired of bread, the Lord sent quail as well to eat.  However, murmurs began to spread among the camp that some hearts were considering to trust in their own strength rather than rely solely on God.  This led Moses to draw a line in the sand, “it’s your choice to remember or forget.”

18 But you shall remember [with profound respect] the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore (solemnly promised) to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And it shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will most certainly perish, Deuteronomy 8:18-19.

Each decision that you make has eternal consequences.  Remembering God through obedience results in blessings, seen and unseen.  On the other hand, those who slowly forget God will be punished via a series of curses meant to drive you back into the merciful hands of God.  Unfortunately, the longer you forget God, the harder it becomes to return.  For those who do, the spiritual baggage accrued takes months and even years to sort through.  In view of this, save yourself the heartache by remembering and obeying God’s Word daily.

by Jay Mankus

Responding to Criticism

Censure, denunciation and reproof are examples of criticism. Whenever condemnation comes your way, it’s not pleasant. Some of the accusations made against you may not be credible. Yet, how you respond to criticism will dictate how others will react to you.

A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down, but he who has a humble spirit will obtain honor, Proverbs 29:23.

After a series of severe tribulations, three of Job’s friends jumped to the same conclusion. Using Old Testament logic, these men associated bad things as a curse from God. In their eyes, Job must have done something wrong to have all of his children die and become inflicted with boils. The book of Job is filled with criticism followed by Job’s response.

Whoever is partner with a thief hates his own life; He hears the curse [when swearing an oath to testify], but discloses nothing [and commits perjury by omission]. The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe, Proverbs 29:25.

King Solomon provides advice to individuals facing the hot seat known as criticism. When attacked, human nature relies on pride to defend yourself. Instead of allowing a knee jerk response to come out of your mouth, Solomon encourages individuals to embrace rebukes. Everyone has room for improvement, subtle imperfections that need to be worked out. Thus, the next time you receive critical comments, ask the Lord how these words can be used to benefit you in the future.

by Jay Mankus

God is Watching Over You

If anyone had a reason to doubt and question God, it was Job, a character in one of the oldest books of the Bible.  After his children died in a storm similar to a tornado, Job contracted boils all over his body.  Old Testament rationale associated the bad things that happened to individuals as a sign of punishment from God.  Thus, as bystanders stood by watching the trials that besieged Job, even three of Job’s best friends began to doubt his innocence.

“Behold, God is exalted in His power; Who is a ruler or a teacher like Him?” – Job 36:22

Feeling abandoned, one thought came to Job’s mind, God is watching over you.  While Job’s wife wanted him to curse God and die, his years of spending time with God enabled common sense to prevail.  Just as Jacob physically wrestled with God, Job struggled to comprehend what was happening to him.  This spiritual tussle inspired Job to record these events within an Old Testament book.  The worse things get in life, God has a way of humbling people to the point desperately trusting the Lord with your heart, soul and mind.

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He who keeps Israel.  Will neither slumber [briefly] nor sleep [soundly].  The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand, Psalm 121:3-5.

The Psalmist describes how God specifically watches over human beings.  Shepherds gave thanks for not twisting their ankle despite walking along rocky terrain.  Meanwhile, others sang about God’s never ending protection, watching over us like the old Bette Midler song From a Distance.  Finally, God is like a keeper, a shepherd guiding sheep around danger, a shade of protection in times of trouble.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in the midst of adversity, remember the invisible guardian in the heavens above who is watching over you and me.

by Jay Mankus

The Bible’s Response to the Secret Movement

In 2006 a film entitled the Secret was released in theaters.  When a subsequent self help book was written by Rhonda Byrne based upon this earlier movie, a movement began to gain some traction nationwide.  Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Larry King invited the founders of the Secret on their talk shows to discuss its teaching.  Based upon my understanding of this documentary, the mind is used as a catalyst to focus on the law of attraction.  According to the various guest speakers in the film, belief, positive thinking and vision are essential to reach your full potential on earth.  While some of the concepts addressed do make sense, the Bible does respond to the Secret Movement.

“But it shall come about, if you do not listen to and obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today, then all these curses will come upon you and overtake you,” Deuteronomy 28:15.

Instead of explaining good and bad in life through the law of attraction, the Bible has a different set of standards.  According to Moses, the good things in life are a direct result of God’s blessing.  Blessings occur as individuals begin to listen, obey and carefully follow God’s commandments, precepts and statues recorded in the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.  Meanwhile, as people forget, stray from or reject God’s laws, curses come into your life in the form of disappointment, failure and trials.  There are other contributing factors such as prayer, repentance and reconciliation.  Yet, the New Testament introduces the world to a kinder, gentler God, full of grace, mercy and love demonstrated by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Do not quench [subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of] the [Holy] Spirit. 20 Do not scorn or reject gifts of prophecy or prophecies [spoken revelations—words of instruction or exhortation or warning]. 21 But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil [withdraw and keep away from it], 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.

If you read the Secret or watch the movie, you may be tempted to believe in the endless possibilities of thinking everything you want and hope for into reality.  Unfortunately, this idea sounds too good to be true because it sets people up for failure, promising a false sense of reality.  While the Bible does compliment principles such as positive thinking, developing a strong mind and vision, sometimes faithful people like Job are attacked by demons, powers of darkness or Satan himself.  This element of the spiritual realm is not addressed by the Secret Movement.  Yet, when individuals exercise freewill, accidents, mistakes and those who seek revenge can alter, change or permanently end your life.  Thus, the Bible is designed as a light, Psalm 119:105, a guide, John 14:6 and an endless source of information to assure eternal salvation, 1 John 5:13.  May this blog help you sort through tough questions in life and prepare you for future theories about how to get rich quick.

by Jay Mankus

Estranged

When love is absent, conditions can deteriorate.  If this negative climate persists, relationships can be torn apart.  By products of this atmosphere result in arguments, fights and misery.  Without reconciliation, family, friends and relatives can become estranged.  This tension creates a dysfunctional mood at an family gathering or reunion.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12.

The Bible refers to estranged in context of a relationship with God.  Any type of sin separates individuals from God.  In the Old Testament, Israel was given the Torah as a set of standards for life.  Breaking, cutting corners or slightly deviating from these laws is described as a willful act of disobedience.  Deuteronomy 28 contains a list of blessings for those who obey God, ending with a much longer list of consequences called curses.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near, Hebrews 10:24-25.

A first century Jewish convert to Christianity wrote the book of Hebrews.  In the passage above, advice is provided to restore estranged relationships.  Accountability serves as a tool to sharpen one another spiritually.  While this takes place in the form as a Bible Study, prayer or sharing group, these fellowships promote healing and forgiveness.  If you find yourself in a relationship drifting away or falling apart, take steps now so that these precious bonds are not severed permanently.

by Jay Mankus

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